Going Places in a Click

Google Maps NYCIn 2004, I stayed in my college roommate’s one-room apartment in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. I was there for only a few days, but I will always remember the small place.

It was unique, but one aspect of the place still stands out most in my mind. It was a third-story apartment that was level with a metro station. The trains regularly would screech to a halt—brakes grinding against the steel railway—directly in front of the apartment’s windows. The trains stopped so close that the windows, the computer, and the range would rattle.

All conversations had to pause until the train finally moved along to the next station.

And a decade later, the apartment has become a setting for a fiction story.

How can I remember all the details that make up the neighborhood? Google Maps.

Google Maps, as well as other mapping applications such as Bing Maps, can take writers to amazing new places and old ones, all in the click of a mouse. The various maps can give slightly different pictures of the same place.

Through these maps, you can get setting descriptions for your writing, or find how far it is to walk from one place to another by car, train, bike, or even by foot.

Google Maps DC

The Brooklyn neighborhood was unlike my townhouse in downtown Washington, DC. This famous part of New York City was a foreign land, as far as I was concerned.

Nevertheless, I can revisit the place whenever I wish without a fear of pick-pockets.

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Comments

  1. Awesome! I love the idea of taking a place I’ve actually been too and using it in one of my books. Google Maps is a great tool! Thanks for the suggestion.

    Andrea

    • Hi Andrea – We are spoiled with Google and instant knowledge, aren’t we? We have no excuses not to write about far-away places. I love that! I hope you’re having an amazing day!

    • I’m glad you liked the suggestion.

      I come from a family that likes—no, we love—to reminisce. So, I enjoy finding the old places I’ve lived and stayed, like that apartment in Brooklyn, the house where I was born in Wisconsin, or my grandma’s house. I’ve even used Google Maps to visit old elementary and middle schools that I attended to see what they look like nowadays. The images bring back memories and old feelings that become quite useful in my writing.
      Matthew.

      • That’s great Matthew. My family does a lot of reminiscing too. I’ll have to remember to use Google to check out the places we talk about. Thanks!

  2. Great reminder of all of the sensory details of a location and how to reconnect with them! In the book I’m currently working on there is the smell of chocolate throughout the part of town where one of my scene’s take place. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t googled that location. So helpful.

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